"programming" entries

Four short links: 8 October 2015

Four short links: 8 October 2015

Mystery Machine, Emotional Effect, Meeting Hacks, and Energy Consumption

  1. The Mystery Machine (A Paper a Day) — rundown of Facebook’s Mystery Machine, which can measure end-to-end performance from the initiation of a page load in a Web browser, all the way through the server-side infrastructure, and back out to the point where the page has finished rendering. Doing this requires a causal model of the relationships between components (happens-before). How do you get that? And especially, how do you get that if you can’t assume a uniform environment for instrumentation?
  2. Network Effect — hypnotic and emotional. (via Flowing Data)
  3. Cultivating Great Distributed Teams (Liza Daly) — updates and refinements on her awesome meeting hack/system.
  4. Smartphone Energy Consumption (Pete Warden) — I love new ways of looking at familiar things. Looking at code and features through the lens of power consumption is another such lens. (I remember Craig from Craigslist talking at OSCON about using power as the denominator in your data center, changing how I saw the Web). The article is full of surprising numbers and fascinating factoids. Active cell radio might use 800 mW. Bluetooth might use 100 mW. Accelerometer is 21 mW. Gyroscope is 130 mW. Microphone is 101 mW. GPS is 176 mW. Using the camera in ‘viewfinder’ mode, focusing and looking at a picture preview, might use 1,000 mW. Actually recording video might take another 200 to 1,000 mW on top of that.
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Four short links: 28 September 2015

Four short links: 28 September 2015

Coordinated Disclosure Kit, Coding Contests, Growth Strategies, and Ad Buck Passing

  1. Coordinated Disclosure Toolkita generic copy of the resources used by Portcullis Computer Security to manage our Advisory Process.
  2. Competitive Coding (Bloomberg) — ignore the lazy author’s patronising tone; the bit that caught my eye was: He first began freaking people out in second grade, at age 8, when he took second place in a major Belarusian coding competition. To put this achievement in perspective, the score was high enough for Korotkevich to be granted automatic enrollment in a top technical university without needing to pass any other entrance exams. That is how you value STEM education: let people test out of it if they don’t need it!
  3. Here’s What a Growth Strategy Looks Like (First Round) — User acquisition doesn’t really make sense unless you already have healthy retention [of diversity-in-tech pipeline conversations].
  4. How We Pass The Buck (Anil Dash) — The thing is, technology is not neutral, algorithms are built with values, and the default choices in our software determine huge swaths of our culture. We delegate ethical decisions as consumers and citizens to people who make software, but almost no computer science program teaches ethics, and almost no major technology company has a chief ethicist.
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Four short links: 24 September 2015

Four short links: 24 September 2015

Machine Music Learning, Cyber War, Backing Out Ads, and COBOL OF THE 2020s

  1. The Hit Charade (MIT TR) — Spotify’s deep-learning system still has to be trained using millions of example songs, and it would be perplexed by a bold new style of music. What’s more, such algorithms cannot arrange songs in a creative way. Nor can they distinguish between a truly original piece and yet another me-too imitation of a popular sound. Johnson acknowledges this limitation, and he says human expertise will remain a key part of Spotify’s algorithms for the foreseeable future.
  2. The Future of War is the Distant Past (John Birmingham) — the Naval Academy is hedging against the future by creating cybersecurity midshipmen, and by requiring every midshipman to learn how to do celestial navigation.
  3. What Happens Next Will Amaze You (Maciej Ceglowski) — the next in Maciej’s amazing series of keynotes, where he’s building a convincing case for fixing the Web.
  4. Go Will Dominate the Next Decade (Ian Eyberg) — COBOL OF THE 2020s. There, I saved you the trouble.
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Four short links: 23 September, 2015

Four short links: 23 September, 2015

Sentence Generator, Deep Neural Networks Explainer, Sports Analytics, and System Hell

  1. Skip Thought Vectors — research (with code) that produces surrounding sentences, given a sentence.
  2. A Beginner’s Guide to Deep Neural Networks (Google) — Googlers’ 20% project to explain things to people tackles machine learning.
  3. Data Analytics in Sports — O’Reilly research report (free). When it comes to processing stats, competing companies Opta and ProZone use a combination of recording technology and human analysts who tag “events” within the game (much like Vantage Sports). Opta calculates that it tags between 1,600 and 2,000 events per football game — all delivered live.
  4. On Go, Portability, and System Interfaces — No point mentioning Perl’s Configure.sh, I thought. The poor bastard will invent it soon enough.
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Four short links: 22 September 2015

Four short links: 22 September 2015

Ant Algorithms, Git Commit, NASA's Deep Learning, and Built-In Empathy

  1. Ant Algorithms for Discrete Optimization (Adrian Colyer) — Stigmergy is the generic term for the stimulation of workers by the performance they have achieved – for example, termite nest-building works in a similar way. Stigmergy is a form of indirect communication “mediated by physical modifications of environmental states which are only locally accessible to the communicating agents.
  2. How to Write a Git Commit Message (Chris Beams) — A diff will tell you what changed, but only the commit message can properly tell you why.
  3. Deep Belief Networks at the Heart of NASA Image ClassificationThe two new labeled satellite data sets were put to the test with a modified deep-belief-networks-driven approach, ultimately. The results show classification accuracy of 97.95%, which performed better than the unmodified pure deep belief networks, convolutional neural networks, and stacked de-noising auto-encoders by around 11%.
  4. The Consequences of An Insightful Algorithm (Carina C. Zona) — We design software for humans. Balancing human needs and business specs can be tough. It’s crucial that we learn how to build in systematic empathy. (via Rowan Crawford)
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Four short links: 21 September 2015

Four short links: 21 September 2015

2-D Single-Stroke Recognizer, Autonomous Vehicle Permits, s3concurrent, and Surviving the Music Industry

  1. $1 Unistroke Recognizera 2-D single-stroke recognizer designed for rapid prototyping of gesture-based user interfaces. In machine learning terms, $1 is an instance-based nearest-neighbor classifier with a Euclidean scoring function — i.e., a geometric template matcher.
  2. Apple Talking to California Officials about Self-Driving Car (Guardian) — California DMV’s main responsibility for autonomous vehicles at present is administering an autonomous vehicle tester program for experimental self-driving cars on California’s roads. So far, 10 companies have been issued permits for about 80 autonomous vehicles and more than 300 test drivers. The most recent, Honda and BMW, received their permits last week.
  3. s3concurrent — sync local file structure with s3, in parallel. (via Winston Chen)
  4. Amanda Palmer on Music Industry Survival Techniques (O’Reilly Radar) — I’ve always approached every Internet platform and every Internet tool with the suspicion that it may not last, and that actually what’s very important is […] the art and the relationships I’m building.
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Four short links: 18 September 2015

Four short links: 18 September 2015

Mass Customization, Monolithic Codebase, Database Implementation, and Encrypted Databases

  1. The Wild Wild East (The Economist) — Fung Retailing Limited, a related firm, has over 3,000 outlets, a third of them in China. Victor Fung, its honorary chairman, sees the era of mass production giving way to one of mass customization. Markets are fragmenting and smartphones are empowering consumers to get “directly involved in what they buy, where it is made and how they buy it.” Zhao Xiande of CEIBS in Shanghai points to Red Collar, a firm that used simply to make and export garments. Now it lets customers the world over design their own shirts online and makes them to order. Another outfit, Home Koo, offers custom-built furniture online.
  2. Motivation for a Monolithic Codebase (YouTube) — interesting talk about Google’s codebase, the first time I know of that Google’s strategy for source code management was discussed in public.
  3. SQL in CockroachDB: Mapping Table Data to Key-Value Storage — very easy-to-follow simple database implementation lesson.
  4. cryptdbA database system that can process SQL queries over encrypted data.
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Four short links: 17 September 2015

Four short links: 17 September 2015

Google's Code, China's Pledge, MD5's Cracks, and Toyota's Robotics Hire

  1. Google’s 2 Billion Lines of Code (Wired) — 85TB, 45,000 changes/day in Google’s DVCS “Piper.” They’re looking at Mercurial.
  2. China Extracting Pledge of Compliance from US Firms (NY Times) — The letter also asks the American companies to ensure their products are “secure and controllable,” a catchphrase that industry groups said could be used to force companies to build so-called back doors — which allow third-party access to systems — provide encryption keys or even hand over source code.
  3. MD5 To Be Considered Harmful Some Day (Adrian Colyer) — walkthrough of Dan Kaminsky’s paper on the growing number of cracks in MD5.
  4. Toyota’s Robot Car Plans (IEEE Spectrum) — Toyota hired the former head of DARPA’s Robotics Challenge. Pratt explained that a U.S. $50 million R&D collaboration with MIT and Stanford is just the beginning of a large and ambitious program whose goal is developing intelligent vehicles that can make roads safer and robot helpers that can improve people’s lives at home.
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Four short links: 14 September 2015

Four short links: 14 September 2015

Robotics Boom, Apple in Communities, Picture Research, and Programming Enlightenment

  1. Uber Would Like to Buy Your Robotics Department (NY Times) — ‘‘If you’re well versed in the area of robotics right now and you’re not working on self-driving cars, you’re either an idiot or you have more of a passion for something else,’’ says Jerry Pratt, head of a robotics team in Pensacola that worked on a humanoid robot that beat Carnegie Mellon’s CHIMP in this year’s contest. ‘‘It’s a multibillion- if not trillion-dollar industry.’’
  2. What the Heck is Angela Ahrendts Doing at Apple? (Fortune) — Apple has always intended for each of them to be a community center; now Cook and Ahrendts want them to be the community center. That means expanding from serving existing and potential customers to, say, creating opportunities for underserved minorities and women. “In my mind,” Ahrendts says, store leaders “are the mayors of their community.”
  3. Imitation vs. Innovation: Product Similarity Network in the Motion Picture Industry (PDF) — machine learning to build a model of movies released in the last few decades, We find that big-budget movies benefit more from imitation, but small-budget movies favor novelty. This leads to interesting market dynamics that cannot be produced by a model without learning.
  4. Enlightened Imagination for Citizens (Bret Victor) — It should be painfully obvious that learning how to program a computer has no direct connection to any high form of enlightenment. Amen!
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Better code is cheaper

Implementing software quality standards guarantees measurable results.

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Listen to the podcast Better code is cheaper to learn how the Software Improvement Group (SIG) is paving the way for software quality and maintainability.

Software quality is an often-overlooked development parameter, making way for those items that resonate outside of the engineering team – a faster schedule and an on-budget project. Joost Visser, Head of Research at Software Improvement Group (SIG) sat down with me to explain how a focus on quality helps to achieve the fastest possible schedules and lowest possible cost of development and maintenance.

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